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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Threats from anarchists have Tampa on lockdown ahead of GOP convention

The city of Tampa, Fla., is on virtual lockdown this week as local and federal law enforcement authorities ready for tens of thousands of protesters, politicians and media to swarm the coastal metropolis during the Republican National Convention.

With the Secret Service at the helm, the FBI, the Coast Guard and the military have taken extensive steps to guard against potential terrorist attacks as well as uprisings from anarchists intent on disrupting the five-day event.

“As far as demonstrators, we don’t make estimates or predict what will or will not happen — a part of our planning process is planning for any and all scenarios,” said George Ogilvie, a spokesman for the Secret Service, in an interview with The Hill.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a joint intelligence bulletin this week stating a “high confidence” that anarchist groups are “preparing to use violence and criminal tactics in an attempt to disrupt the Republican National Convention,” according to a copy provided to The Hill.

The city’s police department has bulked up its bike and horse units with a $50-million federal grant, adding more than a dozen all-terrain vehicles to speedily navigate Tampa’s streets if protests get out of control with roving mobs, as they have at previous conventions.

In an effort to extend a visual olive branch, police purchased more neutral-looking khaki uniforms for the roughly 1,000 officers expected to be on duty throughout the week, in hopes that they will appear more approachable and less threatening to demonstrators. Thousands of police from surrounding cities and counties are expected to bolster the local department’s ranks.

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